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Let’s think about scale today. I wonder if you’ve considered scale in the garden, at least in terms of plants? If not, it’s worth considering, as playing with different sizes can add an extra dimension to the space. As a garden designer, I’m always thinking of proportions – the layout of a garden on the ground has to be worked out until it’s just right before moving on to planting, and the proportions of all the different elements have to work, not just for the property to which the garden belongs, but for the human beings who will be using and enjoying it.
Have you ever thought about shapes in the garden, or to be more exact, in the planted areas? It’s worth thinking about because a well-planned garden will include a variety of plant shapes to achieve the most visually pleasing look. It can be tempting as a new gardener to focus only on the flowering potential of your new best friends, and I understand this completely, having once been a rookie myself. It’s so tempting to wander through a garden centre and be seduced by the colour, texture and fragrance of blooms, and to fill up your garden with attractive flowers.
I’ve recently acquired one of those cute little bamboo coffee cups that you can re-use over and over again, and at the end of its life it composts down, apart from the rubber lid. It’s much nicer to drink from than a plastic or metal re-usable container or indeed the single use paper cups it’s intended to replace. It’s getting a lot of use, as I’m on the road a lot visiting clients’ gardens and after a couple of hours on site it’s safer for all concerned if I get my caffeine hit. It made me think just how many of the single use cups I used to get through – many of us have only recently realised that these can’t be recycled because of the thin inner layer of plastic.
Most of us need more blue in our gardens. This mayseem an odd thing to say but I suspect if you bear this in mind the next time you’re surveying your own garden or indeed someone else's, you might be inclined to agree with me. Pinks and reds, yellows and oranges are inclined to dominate for much of the year and including enough blue to keep a good visual balance can be a challenge. There was a fashion a few years ago for painting anything that didn’t grow in the garden blue, from fences to sheds to benches, and in fact I took it up enthusiastically myself. It can get a little jarring in winter though, so you’re probably better off to stick to subtle greens and neutrals for the furniture and fencing and let the plants add the colour.
A flower – speckled meadow is a beautiful sight and I’m often asked to include one in garden designs. I’m always happy to oblige, for a number of reasons.
With a nationwide hosepipe ban recently announced, we need to be very selective about how and when we use water in the garden. Even if it rains soon, it will take weeks if not months for reservoir levels to get back to normal and at the time of writing the ban is expected to be in place until at least the end of July. Right now gardens have to contend with unprecedentedly high temperatures, drying winds and plants and trees in full leaf – all things that make them need water more than ever. Garden lovers have difficult decisions to make – which areas need water the most - as there simply isn’t enough to go around. You may be able to eke out supplies by re-using “grey” water, and here are a few tips to help you use any water to best advantage:
As a weather-obsessed nation we’ve certainly got lots to talk about this year, but personally, I feel sorry for the plants. Our gardens have had to contend with the greatest snowfall in living memory, and now pretty much sub – Saharan conditions, all within the space of three months. If your lawn’s going brown, don’t worry – when the rain comes, as it surely will, the grass will recover and green up fairly quickly.
Well, you can’t, in my opinion. Bench seating is one of the most versatile ways to rest your weary bones in the garden and every garden, no matter how small, has room for at least one.
As the evenings lengthen towards the summer solstice I hope you have been able to enjoy some time outside in the garden. This is the time of year when your garden furniture comes into its own so if yours is tired or past its best it might be time to think about investing in some new pieces. As a firm believer in the benefits of sitting down and enjoying the garden as much as possible, I look upon outdoor furniture as one of the most valuable investments in your garden, and it’s often overlooked in favour of hard landscaping and plants when planning your space. This is why I always include advice on the best furniture as an integral part of a garden design.
If you’re tempted to give roses a try after reading last week’s Gardenwise, or indeed to expand your collection if you’re already a rose grower, it might be useful to talk about the different kinds of rose plant you’ll find available if you visit your local garden centre. I really do believe that there’s a rose for every garden and would hate to be without them. One of my favourite things in summer is to cut a few blooms for the house, often plonking them informally into a jam jar or drinking glass and leaving them where I can inhale their heavenly scent.